Do insects sleep?

Sleep-deprivation is considered to be torture – but can you also use it to pester flies?

22nd April 2016
Do insects sleep? (istock)

Asked by: Caitlin Hall, Southampton

Yes. They don’t have eyelids, so they don’t close their eyes like we do. Cockroaches, however, will fold down their antennae when they sleep, which has the similar purpose of protecting delicate sensory organs.

When asleep, insects aren’t just resting – sleeping praying mantises will droop downwards and sleeping bees are harder to startle than those that are having a rest.

Laboratory experiments have shown that fruit flies that are forced to stay awake are slower at learning their way round simple mazes than fruit flies that are allowed sufficient sleep.

 


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